Naked Boys Reading in Berlin

by | indielit

You know what they say about Berliners? They’ve seen it all before, similar to New Yorkers, right? Well, probably not in this case, because Thursday night saw the first ever installment of Naked Boys Reading in town.

It was also my first time at Monster Ronson’s Ichiban Karaoke on Warschauer Strasse, and I’ve got to say, I fell in love with the place. It’s like a run-down, glitter-showered, bright-lights dark room, dingly little palace of delights! Not that little, but for this event, the place filled quickly. An expectant crowd of mostly bearded men waiting for … literature to happen. Maybe also poetry. They got both, and more.

Readings by guys who are stark naked

After the lovely welcome by local hero Pansy Parker and Naked-Boys-Reading organizer Dr. Sharon Husbands, the listeners were first treated to the opening passage of Roberto Bolanos “Die Nöte des wahren Polizisten,” a Chilean novel read in German by the ringletted Carlos from Colombia. Does that sound like a handful? It was awesome, though, and the perfect entryway into the weirdly unweird experience of listening to readings by guys who are stark naked, and often visibly trembling with the courage, anxiety and adrenaline it took them to get up in front of the microphone and do it.

The rest of the offerings were in English, from Ezra’s own poems and Paolo’s rendition of a passage from Wim Wenders’ movie “Wings of Desire” to Ceven’s 10 points of how to support the refugee protest. Last, there were two more passages from novels, one by Chris and finally one by Pansy herself.

The body in front of you

What happens when you listen and look is that often, you don’t do both at the same time. There are moments when the words command all of your attention, the flow of language carries you along, and the body in front of you is all but forgotten. Only an instant later, you might focus on the way the light catches the curve of a back, how it seems to foreground every hair on a calf. And then again, all becomes one, the text speaks of statues, and there is a living statue in front of you, reciting it.

Like looking at art

In the end I would say, though there was much laughter, mirth and merriment, the whole thing is like looking at art – I mean the kind of art that impresses you, speaks to you, makes you look for a long time, whatever that may be for you or me – because it gets you on more than one level. In short, I had a great time. The emcees promised they would do this again – so don’t miss it the next time around!

Photo by Vanek London
Article by Claudia Rapp
(article in German here)

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